I often have to have written about something before I understand it.
It's what makes me good at my job--I essentially write about things I don't know about for a living. I gather morsels of information in the research portion of a project, and by stringing the words and paragraphs together, a fully formed idea inevitably emerges. I don't know what it's going to look like until it's finished. It kind of feels like painting sometimes, working on the strokes themselves and later backing up to see the big picture. I don't think I'll ever be able to teach it. It's just how I've been my entire life, thanks to some really great teachers, and since it works, and it pays my bills, I know when to leave well enough alone. I don't question it. I just write, and things make more sense.
In my early twenties I recognized that writing could help me process things in my personal life as well. Only a few years ago, around the time I started this blog, did I really force myself to write as a vehicle for sorting things out. If I had to guess I'd say I only post about 10% of what I write--outside of work, of course. There are a lot of drafts in my Blogger account, a lot of Word documents on my laptop. I've got a lot to sort out still.
I am telling you this not only because I think it's important to recognize our strengths, but because it's the only way I can explain my biggest weakness. Because with this blessing comes a curse.
The world doesn't communicate the way I'm wired to, not on an interpersonal level. In relationships, you can't hole up in your bedroom and work things out alone on your laptop. You have to be able to work things out in real time. You have to meet another person half way. You have to address things piece by piece, before the larger picture emerges, if it ever even does. You can't play to your strengths because everything has to be on the table. You need to hang in, be open, be vulnerable. Your emotions can't just percolate in a Word document somewhere. You have to share before you're ready to. Life is unpolished. Messy, even.
And before there is even a chance to have to "work things out", you have to be open enough to enter a relationship. And before you enter a relationship, you have to be open enough to be seen, truly, by someone. To know and be known: the precursor to loving and being loved.
I don't have to tell you how risky this all is. I don't have to tell you how much it hurts sometimes, how terrifying it is. There's rejection. Opposition. Conflict. A thousand wounds to be opened. A hundred new ones to avoid. We all know this. It's the human condition.
But I've been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately, how necessary it is. Excruciating at times and definitely pushing us out of the ol' comfort zone, but necessary. I'm learning in this season of my life that even if I get hurt, even when the wound still smarts and I have to rally my girlfriends or cry it out in the shower, being vulnerable has always been worth it.
There is no reward in being closed off. There is no merit in keeping yourself hidden. Vulnerability is the key that unlocks a lot of doors, doors behind which there are a lot of good things: Love. Support. Friendship. Not being alone with your thoughts.
I didn't realize that was the point I was getting at until I finished this post, which tells me I have a lot of work to do. But maybe I'll try to edit a little less intensely this time around.
"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life--and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." --Georgia O'Keefe (Speaking of painting...)
"Vulnerability sounds like the truth, and feels like courage." --Brene Brown, the vulnerability expert
I got a hunger and I can't seem to get full
I need some meaning I can memorize
The kind I have always seems to slip my mind
But you, but you
You write such pretty words
But life's no story book
Love's an excuse to get hurt
and to hurt --Bright Eyes, A Lover I Don't Have To Love (<--Phenomenal cover)
How come the only way to know how high you get me
is to see how far I fall? --John Mayer, Heartbreak Warfare
Open: (adj) allowing access; not closed off; being in a position to permit passage
Synonyms: free, expansive, unobstructed
Sounds good to me.